February 2, 2017

Could Wormholes Really Work? Probably Not (Source: Space.com)
Ah, wormholes. The intergalactic shortcut. A tunnel through space-time that allows intrepid travelers to hop from star system to star system without ever coming close to the speed of light. Wormholes are a workhorse of sci-fi interstellar civilizations in books and on the screen. But could we do it? Could we actually warp and bend space-time to make a convenient tunnel, making all of our galactic dreams come true? Click here. (2/1)

Making Commercial Space Great (Source: The Hill)
In everything from military power to economic output, outer space capabilities are crucial for the United States. Though these capabilities have long been the domain of large government programs, commercial space companies are increasingly pushing progress. Unfortunately, these companies are hindered by cumbersome, confusing, and capricious governance practices. To ensure that America continues to be a leader in outer space, the U.S. government must reform how it oversees commercial outer space.

The first step of reform should involve a thorough review of the government’s organizational approach to space oversight authorities. Currently, the authorities for activities in space are housed in a range of agencies—each with a different perspective on commercial space. Depending on the satellite or equipment being launched, a commercial company can undergo reviews by the FAA, Department of Commerce, the DOD, the State Department, and the FCC. This hodgepodge of agencies can be confusing to navigate, especially for new entrants to the space market.

While the entire multi-agency process should be reviewed, there are direct steps that could be taken to improve individual aspects of government oversight. In the Department of Transportation (DOT), for example, the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) should be elevated out of the FAA to its own bureau status. Click here. (2/1)

Greek Space Agency Planned (Source: Ekathimerini)
Telecoms and Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas will be presenting lawmakers with a bill inaugurating Greece’s first space agency, the ministry said in an announcement on Monday.  The agency will be a public limited company called National Center for Space Applications (EKDE in Greek), aimed at “making up for the country’s huge deficit in this area,” the ministry said. (2/1)

Why a $100M Rocket Launch Site Might be Coming to Nova Scotia (Source: CBC)
A small Nova Scotia community that last waded into an international communications revolution about 130 years ago, could soon return to those heady days with a fiery bang. The Canso-Hazel Hill area in Guysborough County has been shortlisted as a future launch base to send satellite-carrying rockets into space, one of a handful of spots across North American being eyed by a Nova Scotia company.

Maritime Launch Services will hold an open house to share its plans with local residents. "The Canso site prospect is the most mature one in Canada at this point, but not the only candidate," company president Steve Matier said. Matier spent most of 2016 evaluating about 15 potential launch locations in North America for the Ukrainian Cyclone 4M medium-class rocket.

Matier, who lives in New Mexico, has 30 years of experience in the commercial aerospace industry and helped develop Spaceport America, a launch site in New Mexico. Maritime Launch Services was jointly formed in Nova Scotia by three U.S. companies. The spaceport would include a launch pad and a processing facility, which would be about two kilometers apart from each other but connected by a transportation hub. The cost of this would be up to $100 million. (2/1)

Aurora Experiment Streaks Into Alaska's Sky on Small NASA Rocket (Source: Space.com)
A sounding rocket flew successfully into the Alaskan sky Jan. 27 to track down nitric oxide, a byproduct of auroras (northern lights) that form in the region. The Polar Night Nitric Oxide experiment (PolarNOx) lifted off from the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska and flew almost 176 miles (283 kilometers) high.

The mission's goal was to see how much nitric oxide there is in the atmosphere, and how high it goes. Nitric oxide is generated during an aurora but is not "significantly destroyed" during the polar night, and under certain conditions it could make its way into the stratosphere and destroy ozone, NASA officials said in a statement. The ozone changes could in turn change stratospheric temperature and affect wind circulation on the Earth's surface. (2/1)

SpaceX Wants to Double its Footprint at the Port of Los Angeles (Source: Daily Breeze)
SpaceX, which is working through a backlog of rocket launches, wants to double the space it leases at the Port of Los Angeles to park and handle recovered space equipment. The Board of Harbor Commissioners will vote at its Thursday morning meeting on a deal to enlarge SpaceX’s footprint at San Pedro’s outer harbor. The company hopes to lease 4.6 acres of land and water area along Berths 51 to 53 for $23,735 a month, plus insurance and any incidental costs. (1/31)

Alaska Considers Developing a Spaceport in Hawaii (Source: Sun Herald)
Alaska Aerospace Corp. is weighing options for a second launch facility outside the state, but CEO Craig Campbell says Alaskans will still benefit from the additional revenue. The state-owned corporation's board of directors recently authorized spending of up to $250,000 for surveys, property appraisal, site design and other preliminary efforts for the launch site.

Alaska Aerospace operates the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska. The Kodiak Island complex is capable of polar, sun-synchronous and high-inclination orbits, but does not support the equatorial launches that make up most of the industry demand. With the new launch facility, Campbell said having equatorial launches will give the corporation a competitive advantage and also bring more customers to Kodiak. The company has been eyeing several sites for the facility, including in Hawaii and Saipan. (2/1)

Monkey Flew to the Edge of Space Then Smashed Into a Destroyer (Source: Ars Technica)
Sam the rhesus monkey had already experienced one hell of a ride to the edge of space when he splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean—but his adventure didn’t end there. Although the dry, original accounts of Sam's 1959 flight offer scant detail about the journey, mainly confirming that NASA’s new Mercury capsule kept him alive, Bob Thompson tells a more colorful story. Thompson recounted the landing of Sam nearly six decades ago. In doing so, he offered a parable for NASA as it considers rescue operations for its Orion spacecraft at sea.

So when NASA's young engineers at Langley Research Center in Virginia began testing their new Mercury capsule in flight, they wanted to see whether the accelerations experienced during the abort of a Mercury flight shortly after launch were survivable. Enter Sam, an eight-pound rhesus monkey. It was up to Thompson to recover Sam, or what remained of him, after the test flight. Click here. (2/1)

India Plans to Replace Malfunctioning Navigation Satellite in Orbit (Source: IANS)
India plans to launch a navigation satellite to replace one whose atomic clocks have malfunctioned. The spare satellite will be launched later this year to replace one of the seven satellites in India's regional satellite navigation system. The other six satellites in the system are still working well, according to the Indian space agency ISRO. The atomic clocks in the Indian satellites come from the same Swiss company that supplied clocks for Europe's Galileo satellite system, which has also suffered several clock malfunctions. (2/1)

DOD: Be Ready for Space War with China (Source: Space News)
The head of U.S. Strategic Command says the U.S. needs to be prepared for war with China in space. U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, recently confirmed as head of STRATCOM, warned in a speech last week that China continues to develop and test anti-satellite weapons that can work in "multiple orbital regimes" a decade after its infamous anti-satellite test in low Earth orbit. "In the not-too-distant future, they will be able to use that capability to threaten every spacecraft we have in space," he said, arguing that the U.S. should prepare for that as the best means to deter a conflict in space from happening. (2/1)

Russia Open to More Cooperation in Space with U.S. (Source: Space News)
Russia would be interested in pursing increased cooperation with the U.S. in space. Sergei Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the U.S., said in a speech Tuesday that it would be premature to speculate whether there will be enhanced U.S.-Russia cooperation in space under the Trump administration, but that Russia would be open to cooperation in areas such as lunar exploration. Cooperation between the countries on space programs other than the International Space Station was sharply reduced after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. (2/1)

Japanese Orbital Debris Experiment Malfunctioned (Source: AFP)
A Japanese experiment to test technologies to reduce orbital debris appears to be malfunctioning. An experiment on a Japanese HTV cargo spacecraft planned to deploy an electromagnetic tether 700 meters long after the HTV departed from the ISS last week. The tether was designed to test whether it could slow down pieces of debris and lower their orbits. However, JAXA says it's not clear the tether deployed. The HTV is scheduled to reenter this weekend, giving engineers only a few days to correct the problem. (2/1)

Russia to Review Space Companies for Quality Problems (Source: Tass)
Russian Deputy Prime Minsiter Dmitry Rogozin has called for a review of Russia's space companies. Rogozin asked Roscosmos to review Russia's various space enterprises to look for evidence of quality problems at the companies. The review comes after the discovery of flawed engines produced by Voronezh Mechanical Plant for the upper stages of the Proton rocket, grounding the vehicle until the middle of May. (2/1)

Inflatable Cycler Spacecraft Concept That Could Take Tourists to the Moon in Just TWO Days (Source: Daily Mail)
We may be able to holiday on the moon within the next decade, experts claim. Now, one designed has created a novel spacecraft concept that he claims would someday ferry tourists, supplies and equipment to the lunar surface within two days - as long as you have $10 million (£8 million) to spare. The concept, dubbed Cycler, is based on technology available today, and could even take people to asteroids and Mars once its reliability and safety are proven. Click here. (2/1)

First Look at the Path NASA Astronauts Will Walk When the U.S. Launches Humans Again (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The a new crew tower at Launch Complex 41, the last place on Earth the astronauts will walk before stepping into the company's Starliner spacecraft, is one example of the company's progress. It's a massive structure, made of 1.4 million pounds of steel, that adds yet another point to the cape's skyline and offers a Penthouse-like view of the shoreline.

Boeing has also built a new mission control room at the Kennedy Space Center, with rows of computer consoles that will one day monitor the rocket's health, its avionics and communications, its fuel and navigation systems. Then there's the new sleek and blue Boeing spacesuit that at 20 pounds, weighs 10 pounds lighter than the one worn by shuttle astronauts. Click here. (2/1)

Space Florida Off the Hook for Additional OneWeb Funding (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The company that plans to build a 100,000-square-foot, $85-million complex on Florida’s Space Coast has received the financing needed to pay for the facility’s construction on its own. Previously, Space Florida had pursued a $3 million bridge loan on behalf Airbus OneWeb. Payment of the loan was to be split between OneWeb and Space Florida. But since then, OneWeb announced that it had secured $1.2 billion in financing from Japan’s Softbank, among others.

Space Florida’s board of directors met in Orlando on Wednesday to consider the arrangement. The board also considered changes to the agency’s master plan and approved $573,321 for consulting services related to environmental upgrades on the shuttle landing facility. In addition, the Cape Canaveral Master Plan has been updated and was sent to the board for approval. (2/1)

Proposed Florida Budget Gives Boost to Blue Origin (Source: Florida Today)
Work to ready a dormant Cape Canaveral launch complex for flights of Blue Origin rockets would receive a $17 million boost from the state under Gov. Rick Scott's proposed $83.5 billion spending plan, unveiled Tuesday. The governor's office said the budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year starting July 1 includes $34 million for launch complex improvements that "will help attract more commercial activity to the area."

Space Florida confirmed the total includes $17 million from the Florida Department of Transportation to help prepare Launch Complex 36, a state-run pad last used in 2005, into a site for Blue Origin's giant New Glenn orbital rockets. The company also plans to build an engine test stand, incorporating the adjacent Launch Complex 11. Blue Origin, the private space firm started by Amazon.com's billionaire founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, will match the state's investment, resulting in the $34 million budget figure cited by the state. (2/1)

SpaceX Test-Fires Used Falcon 9 Rocket (Source: Space.com)
SpaceX is gearing up for its first-ever launch of a used rocket. Last week, SpaceX test-fired the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that launched the CRS-8 International Space Station resupply mission last April, company representatives said Tuesday (Jan. 31). The same rocket stage is scheduled to loft the SES 10 communications satellite sometime next month, though no firm launch date has been announced. (2/1)

How Do You Stop a Speeding Starship? (Source: GeekWire)
Millions of dollars are being spent on a scheme to speed up swarms of tiny sail-equipped probes to 20 percent of the speed of light and send them past Alpha Centauri – but how do you slow them down again? German researchers suggest using the same light sails that got the probes going so fast in the first place.

They worked out a plan could be factored into Breakthrough Starshot’s decades-long mission plan. The researchers call for the probes’ light sails to be redeployed, facing the other way, so that the radiation pressure from Alpha Centauri’s suns would push against the probes as they approach. The steerability would come by positioning the sail at a specific angle, just as mariners steer their sailboats by moving the sail into the wind. (2/1)

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